Old Family Home

Green Building test bed

experiment in Sustainability

Money Pit


Photos, photos, photos, and few sketches too....
Click the links below for photos of the work in progress, sketches, designs, details, building energy calculations, energy conservation, life cycle costing..........


Ground source heat pump.

New bathrooms.

Solar tempered sun space.

Flood control.

Flood restoration.

Concrete pond and pool repairs.

Perpetual / Perenial Landscaping.

Raised bed gardens

Enabled Bathroom

Bathroom Rehab

Frost Proof Shallow Foundation

Natural Landscaping

Super InsulationEcological / Green Building.Sustainability - Energy, Water, Landscaping, and Building.Energy Conservation.



Flexible housing design - redesigning to allow for use by modern families, extended families, rental housing and even rooms to let.

Solar energy utilitzation.

Waste water re-use and recovery.

EPA cetified efficent wood burning fireplace.

Waste heated plunge pool.

Self cleaning gutters.




Construction waste recovery.

Ecological / Green building rehabilitation.

Historic Rehabilitation.

Country House - Adapting to the 20th Century.

Living in the Catskill Mountains.

Living with a well.

Living with a septic system.


I'll even try a composting toilet.  I'd try now, but it's EXPENSIVE!  suitable to places that can't have a standard septic system. 


Edit or delete:  I've been working on a ground source heating pump system, with elements of a buried loop, indirect pond loop - with the water supply from two year round springs on the property.  I'm going to be putting in a whole house heat recovery system on the toilet exhausts.  I've started super insulating the attic.  I've almost finished a frost protected foundation system, modified with a apron around the loose rubble foundation of the house.  I'm replacing the "organically added" bathrooms put in the easiest location 75 years ago, to the most efficently located to allow the most flexible use of the home.  In the process I'm super insulating the bathrooms.  I've been reapairing the ancient pond, by hand, with over 150 sacks of gravel mix so far.

The Work


Synergy and Sustainability - Nature Tools - are used to it's fullest, sometime to control itself.  Which is how nature works, synergistically, self controlling feed back loops, and adapting - as our house is adapting to modern living.



Continuing our homes long history of extended family / congregate / co-housing, from 19th to 21st Century, from two room farmhouse, boarding house, nuclear family, to my re-design and rebuilding for 21st Century group housing - all suite housing.  Everyone can be Master of their own Suite!


Lots of bathroom improvements, energy conservation in all it's forms, new heating and for the first time cooling systems, solar boosted hot water, solar thermal buffered envelope, insulation - super insulation - frost proof shallow foundation insulation, foam, fiberglass, glass wool, a cornacpia of insulation, energy recovery ventilator.



Gardening is the fun stuff!  After three generations, and with the help of science, finally found the way to garden, especially for weekenders.  Imagine only 1 day a month weeding!  REALLY!  Check out the gardeing pages.


Landscaping is fun too!  Sustainability in landscaping equals minimizing labor.  Putting in new beds of native perrenials to define the edges of the property, and help hold back the every encroaching wilds.  Nature is alot more aggressive and prolific than we city folk can imagine.  It's either buffers or as pops and gramps did, endless weekends of work hacking and cutting.  See landscape pages.

GSHP:  High initial cost, and the need to create a more livable enviornment, puts this work last, but not least.  The lynchpin of our eco - experiment will be the Ground Source Heat Pump.  I'll be using an old pond, after I fix it up.  The pond is too small and too shallow, by the rules, but it's fed by two springs year round. The spring water is 35 to 60, 5 - 25 GPM.  I'm going to use this flow, the "shallow" pond, and a couple of thousand feet of HPEM GSHP tubiing as a giant heat exchanger!  What? Why?  Check out the GSHP pages for more on that.
Solar Pond:  Same pond.  The idea is to top off the old pond with a new shallow "reflecting" pool, that in spring and fall would double as a solar pond to capture solar heat to boost the spring water temps feeding the GSHP.  In the summer feed in spring water already heated by the GSHP loops in cooling mode through the solar pond to feed a heated plunge pool!  Sounds like too much work, nope, see the solar pond pages.
All Around

Trash Resource: While not photogenic, I'm proud so I'm saying it, the work so fare has been nearly waste free.  You need to be adaptable, flexible, and willing to work "outside the box" re-use your resources keeping them out of the debris stream.  Outside of containers, construction, gardening, and landscaping waste can always be reused.  I admit that ever expanding and contracting pile of material behind the garage awaiting it's new use gets pretty rangy sometimes, but by fall, wild flowers do a great job of blurring it's edges.

Photo Sections:


Click on the 

Headings in Green 


Chrono at first 

then by Subject:


After a year I managed to land a mostly FT job processing CA documents, and now writing some specs.  Whoppie!  Really!!!

After that working a day or two at a month on the property and house the chrono photo blog became tedious hence the move to subject headings.




1.  Inside Work

Rough work:  Demo, walls and holes going in.


2.  Inside Work

Putting on base for finish work.  Plumbing and electrical roughing starts.  Always adapting, re-using more and more of the existing fabric.


3.  Inside Work

Almost everything ready for finishes.  Plumbing and elec. roughing all done.  Finishing the plumbing roughing, walls, ceilings, connection to septic tank, site drainage.


4 - 5. Inside / Outside Work

Plumbing in

Flooring Started

Detour for seasonal demands - fixing / increasing insulation and finishing concrete work, mostly part of FPSF system.


6. Outside work:

Finishing up for 2010, X-mass day, heh, we all got our stories worked out for everyone...More insulation!


7. Outside work:

Finishing for 2010, in 2011 but a success story considering....Some insulation, some life safety, and it's done.


8. Inside work:

Last of GB patching, tape - spackle - prime, remove the bottom of the stair and patch walls under it, WP membrane, Hardiboard and tile, windows finally go in!


9.  Outside work:

Fixed the gutter again, twice it flipped onto the roof from high winds, ripped the aluminum brackets the second time.   Added hold downs, patched roofing at edge, folded down into gutter.

Transplanted 5 foot high / wide forsythia.


The big slow down -   start new job.


10.  Pond Repairs:

20 years of neglect, bad move.  Find a hole, sound edges until firm concrete found, dig out 2 inches, undercut edges, mix very stiff readi-mix gravel mix, fill, repeat.  Cracks and small holes to be patched with mortar and fiberglass mesh  joint reinforcement.


11.  And the beat goes on.....

The fun never stops, happy 4th of July!  Back in the pond, got flooring down in second new bathroom, got the toilet in, heh, what do you do with a tilted floor when you put in a toilet, really, I just put the toilet in tilted too.  Heh, it's an old house, got to expect weird stuff like that.


12. Another summer of work, another step closer......

Concrete = pond, patched roof leaks again, I even got some time to go inside where I finally got the prep work done for the tiling in the shower. Oh, and via Hurricane Irene and it's kissing cousin a month latter, massive ditching and lawn work, 18 inches in the first, 6 in the second, stream heights 2 x any previous flood stage, flow rates up to 15,000 times normal avg. and 5 times any previous flood.


13. Plumbing Supply

I take the plunge into supply side plumbing.  What's the big deal, soldering copper right up against 100 yr old hemlock.  NERVE WRACKING.  Used lots of protection, GB, scrape tile, wetted areas down with pump sprayer, and kept it around just in case.  


14. A Bit of Beauty

A big morale booster!  Surrounded by mountains in the winter, pretty bleak.  Solution, LED fairy lights around the porch - TRY THEM, you get two lights for the price of one AND only 7 watts a string! 


It is just so cheering when it's dark at 5 and you see the little lights outside all the windows (and the light up the outside too so the windows aren't black holes - which gets old fast).


15. Tiling

Tiling the shower. 


16. A New Garden Motiff

If I make this any easier, the veggies will need to harvest themselves. 

The ultimate weekend gardeners garden!!! 


17. Ground Source Heat Pump - Do It Yourself

Well, some of it.  Starting some grounds work to prep for my eventual GSHP.  Great to have a P/T job and any pay, but not enough to just hire this out and be done with it.  It's DIY for now.


18. Grounds

Overall grounds, over the years.  This is why I keep at it, there is potential here.


19. Ramp (on hold)


20. A Bit of Beauty
There is a reason I'm working to save and improve our old country house


21. Winter Work 2012-2013

All sorts of projects:

Toilet Exhausts

Painting here and there

New Kitchen Floor

Tub Surround

Corner Closet



GSHP, ground source heat pump, ground loop, alternative energy, LEED
GSHP, ground source heat pump, ground loop, alternative energy, LEED
GSHP, ground source heat pump, ground loop, alternative energy, LEED
logging damage
logging damage
Logging damage